[Some] advertisers, such as MyPillow, issued statements defying the boycott and announcing their continued support for Ingraham’s show.
Ingraham’s viewers apparently feel the same way. Since Ingraham returned from vacation on April 9, total viewership of her program has averaged about 2.7 million (Monday through Thursday; Friday’s numbers are not available).
Compare that to the ratings from March 26 through March 29, the Monday through Thursday just prior to the boycott: That week, Ingraham’s total viewership averaged 2.23 million. The increase in her ratings since the boycott began is more than 20 percent.
The week of her vacation was a slow one for Ingraham’s show, with ratings hovering around 2.1 million per night mid-week, but the audience came back once she did — and then some. At the very least, we can safely assume that Hogg’s boycott isn’t drawing away viewers. Although why would it? Ingraham’s audience and his fan club don’t overlap even a tiny bit, I’d guess. That’s why it’s a boycott of advertisers, not of Fox itself: Hogg fans don’t watch her show but they do buy products from Nutrish, IBM, etc. Which is to say, although Ingraham’s climbing ratings are a lure to wary advertisers to come back, it’s not proof that support for the boycott is fading. You could have a growing audience and a growing crowd of boycotters at the same time.
I don’t know if it’s safe to assume, however, that Ingraham had a big week ratings-wise because fans were clamoring to defy the boycott by showing their support. Last week was a freakishly frantic news week, after all. The more news there is, the better ratings are going to be. So a relevant question is, was Ingraham an outlier last week in terms of climbing ratings or were other cable news shows also up because of the news cycle? Turns out it’s the latter. By my math, using the Monday through Thursday ratings at AdWeek, Tucker Carlson averaged around 2.53 million viewers the week before last but zoomed up to 2.72 million last week. Hannity’s increase was larger, bouncing from 2.69 million viewers on average the week before last to 3.16 million last week. (Worth nothing: His program on Monday, April 2, was a special and low-rated by his standards.)
Where you really see the effect of the news cycle is on MSNBC’s ratings, though. The week before last, Rachel Maddow averaged 2.64 million viewers per night while Scary Larry O’Donnell, Ingraham’s competition at 10 p.m., pulled down 2.14. Last week, with Paul Ryan retiring and Michael Cohen being raided and Comeymania sweeping blue America, O’Donnell did 2.66 million while Maddow topped 3.38 million, beating Hannity handily. The rising news tide lifted all boats, including Ingraham’s. Still, Newsbusters’ underlying point is sound: There’s no reason to think the Hogg boycott is costing her any support among Fox News regulars. It may even be helping, although that’s a dicier proposition.
Here’s Ingraham teasing Hannity last night about becoming the Fox News target of the week for wider media.
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) April 17, 2018